Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Obama Scales Back on European Missile Shield, Repudiates Bush Administration Policy

Posted by K.E. White on September 17, 2009

Today President Obama quashed Bush era plans for constructing long-range missile defense stations in the Czech Republic and Poland. Instead the White House has opted for a system aimed at preventing short-range missles through the Navy’s Aegis system.   The decision follows the recommendations of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen

The move brings back the traditional liberal-conservative divide over the merits of missile defense.

The decision, while ostensibly based on technological considerations, will be seen–by supporters and detractors alike–as a significant policy decision. Long-range missile defense, while offering the greatest security pay-off, also antagonize other nuclear powers–particularly Russia. Focusing on a short-range system suggests a security focus on emerging nuclear threats such as North Korea and Iran.

The Arms Control Association, a fierce critic of the Bush administration’s missile defense policies, welcomes the move and offers this backgrounder. The Heritage Foundation blasts Obama’s move as one of “surrender and betrayal.”

Secretary Gates today responded directly to such criticism:

“Those who say we are scrapping missile defense in Europe [as opposed to re-orientating] are either misinformed or misrepresenting the reality of what we are doing…The security of Europe has been a vital national interest of the United States for my entire career. The circumstances, borders and threats may have changed, but that commitment continues.”

From the New York Times:

President Obama announced on Thursday that he will scrap former President George W. Bush’s planned missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic and instead deploy a reconfigured system aimed more at intercepting shorter-range Iranian missiles.

Mr. Obama decided not to deploy a sophisticated radar system in the Czech Republic or 10 ground-based interceptors in Poland, as Mr. Bush had planned. Instead, the new system his administration is developing would deploy smaller SM-3 missiles, at first aboard ships and later probably either in southern Europe or Turkey, officials said.

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